Cooking with Heat on a Breezy Afternoon

From left, first-time cookoff competitor Chef Clifford Hobbs and his business partner Vedran Mizic dish up a tasting of their version of southern-style spicy short ribs and smoked tomatoes chili from their Grub on Dubs booth. Sweet corn bread is under the chili and the sample is topped with scallions, smoked cheddar cheese and pickled peppers “to add an extra kick,” said Mizic. “We wanted a variety of textures and contradicting flavors.” The two are starting a mobile food business that specializes in local hydroponic produce, lifestyle-specific meal delivery and a smoothie cart. In a couple of months, they’ll launch a Facebook page and make more appearances at different area markets and cook-offs, said Hobbs, who is currently a St. Petersburg College student majoring in entrepreneurship. 

It was all about the heat on a cool and breezy Saturday afternoon during the 13th-annual chili cookoff fundraiser sponsored by the Grand Central District Association on March 3.

The event ran from noon to 4 p.m. on the north and south sidewalks of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg along the 2400 and 2500 blocks.

Thirty unique contestants representing individuals and business entered the competition. The area’s business association uses the proceeds from the event to fund things like holiday streetlights, said Dale Osterwise, event chairperson.

A panel of judges evaluated all entries through a blind taste test, said Osterwise. The judges awarded four prizes as follows:
• Best chili by a business or nonprofit: Media Garage Group, Inc. for their Gassed-Up Chili;

• Best chili by an individual: Dave Kooi for his Red Hot Chili;

• Best chili by a restaurant: Community Café for their Winter Chili; and,

• Best vegetarian chili: SukhaLife Yoga Studio for their Chatarunga Chili.

Registered participants received voting tickets to select first, second and third place for the People’s Choice Award:

• First place: Gary Mayfield for his Chef G’s Traditional Texas Chili;

• Second place: Ice Cold Air for their Gator Chili; and,

• Third place: Your Neighborhood Realty for their 3 Ways to Heaven Chili.

“You are all winners in our eyes,” said the association’s Facebook page after the event.

From left, in front, David Walker and Bob Kearney, both of St. Petersburg, enjoyed taking a break from painting to taste test piscatorial chili from the TabbyLou’s Tabby Shack booth. In the back are TabbyLou, personal chef and licensed nutritionist, and Brian Ehrhart both of Clearwater. “I wanted to give another option to eat healthy but also have an entry that has really good flavor,” said TabbyLou. She has been competing in the cookoff for five years.



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